Organ

The Curtis organ department strives to develop artists with radical versatility, a collaborative mindset, and knowledge of a wide range of repertoire and instruments. 

The Curtis organ department is limited to a maximum of five students, guaranteeing each student considerable access to distinguished artist-faculty member Alan Morrison and maximizing students’ opportunities to perform not only at Curtis, but across Philadelphia and the Northeast Corridor. 

Through an anonymous gift made in October 2021, the Curtis organ department became the only comprehensively endowed organ program in the United States. The gift ensures perpetual funding for a range of special activities that add considerable depth to the studio experience of organists at Curtis. In addition to weekly lessons with Mr. Morrison and the general Curtis curriculum, organists accepted to the program can expect to enjoy the following: 

To develop liturgical experience, each organist accepted to the program may be placed as a paid organ scholar in a Philadelphia-area church. Churches currently collaborating with Curtis in this program include:

Students in the program enjoy multiple opportunities to perform on campus in student and studio recitals as well as annual recital opportunities outside of Curtis. The organ program currently partners with the Princeton University Chapel, the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Michael, the Wanamaker Organ at Macy’s Center City (Philadelphia), noontime series from the American Guild of OrganistsSt. Paul’s Chapel at Trinity Church Wall Street (New York), Central Synagogue (New York), and many other local churches for organ performance series. 

Every other year, students in the program accompany Mr. Morrison on an all-expense-paid study tour in France to gain experience with instruments outside of their immediate vicinity. In recent years, the tour has brought Curtis organists to Paris (Notre-Dame, Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais, Sainte-Clotilde, Sainte-Trinité, La Madeleine, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont) and Toulouse (Saint-Sernin and Notre-Dame du Taur). Alternating tours of Germany and northern European countries are also planned in future years. 

Curtis welcomes master teachers and performers from around the world five times per year. Recent visitors include Ken Cowan (Rice University), David Higgs (Eastman School of Music), Nicole Keller (Baldwin Wallace University), Olivier Jean-Claude Latry (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and Conservatoire de Paris), Joan Lippincott, James O’Donnell (Westminster Abbey), Cherry Rhodes (University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music), Dame Gillian Weir, and Todd Wilson (Cleveland Institute of Music). 2021–22 master classes include visiting artists Nicole Keller, Paul Jacobs (The Juilliard School), Kola Owalabi (University of Notre Dame), and Daryl Robinson (University of Houston). 

Curtis organists are required to collaborate with fellow students in a variety of chamber music repertoire. 

Curtis loans a limited number of in-home practice instruments to students in the program. 

Organists and pianists at Curtis have the opportunity to earn a harpsichord certificate studying with Leon Schelhase.

Organ students at Curtis receive a minimum of two full years of improvisation training.

On a regular basis, Curtis organists obtain practical experience practicing on instruments of historic importance in the Philadelphia area, including instruments at Girard College, Longwood Gardens, Macy’s Center City (Wanamaker Organ), and Christ Church Philadelphia. Other venues available for practice feature organs by Fisk and Dobson, and three exceptional historic Moeller organs. 

Students at Curtis have access to several organs on campus including the organ in Field Concert Hall which is an Aeolian-Skinner with 5 manuals and 116 ranks. More specifications and photographs here

Applicants who are admitted enter either the Bachelor of Music or Master of Music programs, or the diploma programs. Those who already hold bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees or other certificates or diplomas are welcome to apply.

 

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Organ Faculty

Alan Morrison, Haas Charitable Trust chair in organ studies

Matthew Glandorf (improvisation)